Are you Avoiding Following-Up?
Having taught hundreds of heart-centred business owners over the past decade I know that one area of sales most people struggle with is the whole “following up” bit.
You’ll probably recognise it – it goes something like this:
You meet someone while networking (this could be online or offline). You introduce yourself with your Captivating Introduction. They indicate that they might be interested in what you do and at this stage it might be no more than that, especially if they are British (we do tend to be quite low key, especially when we are interested – after all the last thing we want to do is give someone the “wrong idea” and end up being “sold” to!). So you arrange with them that you will follow up in the next couple of days to have a more detailed conversation to explore whether working together would be a good fit (so far so good), and you go home full of excitement.
But then the next day you start to say to yourself:
“Should I really contact them?”
“Maybe they were just being polite”
“If I contact them doesn’t this make me just the same as the people who ring me up to sell me a PPI refund or a new boiler?”
“What if they reject me and then I’ll feel bad?”
“Actually I’m sure they are very busy – too busy to want to talk to me”
“Oh yes, they are very busy, so I’d better not disturb them, after all, I’m a nice person”
“So OK, I will leave it for a few days until I feel it’s a better moment”
“And of course, if they really want to work with me they will call me, won’t they?”
Well NO, they probably won’t!
You could almost say that there is an unspoken etiquette here – your client is waiting for you to make the first move.
And if you are not doing that, you’ll be amazed at how many opportunities you are missing out on.
Here are some examples from my own experience:
In the early years of my business I was actively looking for a new accountant and I met one at an event I attended. He didn’t have a business card on him so he said he’d call me on Tuesday (so far so good – he was maintaining control of the follow-up). But the week rolled by and no call, and another week, and I started to wonder: Is he nervous about following up or is he just disorganised and unreliable? I couldn’t tell… He did eventually call, but my faith in him as a professional had been damaged.
The Project Manager
I once had a conversation with someone about managing a technical project within my business. For a number of reasons it wasn’t the right time for me to get started, so we agreed that she would contact me again in the first week of December to get the ball rolling. The first week of December rolled by – and the second week – and then suddenly it was March, and so I began talking to other providers about taking on the project.
But I’m the client you might be thinking, if I want her help why don’t I just call her?
Well, that’s because as the client we also “make up stories” about what other people are thinking:
“She’s probably had a change of business direction and is no longer interested in projects like mine”
“She must be fully booked and doesn’t need any new clients”
“She knew how serious I was so if she wanted to work with me she would call”
So you see, your client expects that if you want the business you will make the first move. Here’s another example from my own experience:
The Personal Stylist
A few years ago I met a personal stylist at a time when I was seriously thinking that my image needed an overhaul as I was becoming more visible in my business. I asked her for her card but didn’t have one. She said she would call me but I heard nothing – at all. Not ever.
This is the story I “made up”:
“She probably doesn’t want to work with me – perhaps she didn’t think I was the right sort of client for her”
Several months later I bumped into her again and we got chatting. I asked her why she didn’t contact me.
“Oh, she said. I didn’t think you were serious and I didn’t want to bother you”
Great, so mystery solved – but by then I was working with another personal stylist so the opportunity had passed.
These examples represent a lot of missed business and I wouldn’t have been the only client that they lost out on due to not following up confidently.
So my message today:
Do it politely. Do it respectfully. By all means, allow the potential client to decide if they are serious and want to go ahead – but your job is to be letting them know that you are right there and available for them if they want to explore things with you.
Not following up isn’t being “non-pushy” – it’s being non-supportive and it doesn’t serve anyone.
Being “non-pushy” is making a solid follow up but also making it clear to the client that they can have an exploratory conversation with no obligation.
It is respecting them if they tell you that now isn’t a good time and then arranging a more convenient time to speak.
It is taking “no” for an answer
But being “non-pushy” is most definitely not hiding at home making excuses not to reach out.
And most clients will thank you for a polite and respectful follow up – I promise!
P.S. I wrote this post a number of years ago, and it was actually inspired by a dating scenario. As you might know, I’m a happy single and don’t tend to date much. However, one day I met a man by chance on a train and we chatted all the way from Bicester to Warwick Parkway. He intrigued me and I felt disappointed when he didn’t ask for my number. On my way home I decided to make the first move – just like you do on your way home from those networking events.
But then I got home and I did nothing.
Instead, I spent a whole week making up stories:
“If he wanted to hear from me again he would have asked for my number”
“He’s probably too busy with his work to be interested”
“Anyway he’s probably married”
And then I realised what I was doing! Exactly what I tell my clients not to do – I was “making up stories” and then using them as an excuse not to take action.
So I found him on Linkedin and sent him a message (OK, I did have to take a deep breath first!).
And he replied. He said he was glad I had tracked him down and asked if I’d like to meet up sometime.
It just goes to show – it’s all in the Follow Up!
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With Love & Gratitude,
It’s like you were reading my mind. In the past I never followed up. I’m much better at it now. But I still have the mind gremlins up to the point of pressing send or ringing their number.
Thanks. Made me feel sad though, because of all the missed opportunities in the past, hopefully it won’t happen again with this powerful reminder !
I’m glad I stopped to read this today. It’s funny how we all think we’re the only ones who talk ourselves out of doing things. That inner voice needs to be our friend not our enemy. My aha moment is that affirmations are a useful tool which I have disregarded in the past and now see as positive action to fight negative thoughts.
We have to learn how to stop talking ourselves out of things in life.
As personal growth writers say – the fortune is in the follow up – some will, some won’t, so what – next!
Love Rose xoxo
Exactly! The worst they can say is ‘No’. And if they do say no that in itself is a little victory for you because it shows you asked – if you don’t ask you don’t get a Yes OR a No – and so you don’t grow or learn or move forward.
I’m delighted to have spurred you into action today – your clients will also be thanking you I’m sure 😉
This is just how I feel, although I’m getting braver at following up.I try to think to myself, the worst they can say is no, right?
And there are plenty of shops whoop stock my artwork, so if they like it others will too.
It’s great to read that others feel the same way too, thanks so much for this post.
Thanks for your latest newsletter which I have shared. I found your 7 steps to success stories very insightful when setting up my business 2 years ago. It definitely helped me with my pitch to clients and the challenges I faced transitioning from in-house practitioner to self-employed consultant. The ‘follow up’ is so true and this has now spurred me into action about something I’ve been dithering about for a while.
I’m really glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for taking the trouble to comment. And thanks for the good luck with my follow up – it hasn’t gone to the next stage yet – maybe I need to follow up again! 😉
Thank you so much for sharing your story and explaining in such a clear and simple way what happens in our mindsets !!!! I absolutely loved your last example! By the way I have also seen a sales video of yours a while ago and I also loved the way you speak and explain concepts. I find you are genuine and passionate as well as experienced, this is all I need to trust you and to like you as your potential customer!
I am glad I am subscribed to your newsletters! Keep up with your great deliveries 🙂 And good luck with your follow up xxx